Learn more with dummies

Enter your email to join our mailing list for FREE content right to your inbox. Easy!

How to Use the Start Menu’s Search Bar

By Woody Leonhard

The Search function in Windows 7 actually works. Most searches begin in Windows Explorer, but you can also use the Start menu to begin a search. When you click the Windows 7 Start button, you can immediately type a keyword in the Start Search bar and have Windows 7 look for the text you type.

For example, if you tell the Start menu’s Search bar to look for the word “water,” Windows 7 consults its index and knows more or less immediately that your computer has a bunch of matching entries.


Windows 7 searches the index and provides you with a list of results automatically sorted by type. If the results include any programs or Control Panel applets, Windows 7 runs the top program on the list when you press Enter. If the results don’t include any programs, pressing Enter throws you into a simple search, covering everything in the Windows 7 search index.

You can customize the Start Menu’s options to limit the search locations if you want to speed up the Start Menu search process.

The following image shows a full search that started in the Start menu. One advantage of starting in the Start menu Search bar is that the search will cover all indexed locations — it won’t tied to a particular folder or library.